It’s not about the people he left behind but those he touched along the way!
Ron was born on his uncle’s kitchen table 74 years ago in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on either November 4th or 5th (this was an ongoing debate). He was the only child of Pete and Jenny (Jean) who operated a pool hall and sold moonshine on the side. The family lived in Smuts, SK which was largely settled by Ukrainians.
At 5 years of age the family moved to Vancouver. Their home on Alexandria Street in the east end was a regular gathering place for all their friends looking for a good meal and an endless supply of whisky. Ron only spoke Ukrainian when he entered school so it was a bit of a struggle at first. By the time he reached high school he began to realize the importance of continuing on to University. He was totally self motivated. It was in the Chem Lab at UBC that Ron first met Joanne.
One of their first dates was a BC Lions football game at the old Empire Stadium. It was Joanne’s first introduction to the game and developed into an activity that they both passionately enjoyed. Seattle Seahawks was their NFL team and nothing would interrupt their Sunday afternoon football. ”Go Hawks!”
In 1962, Ron and Joanne eloped to Bellingham and soon after their son Peter was born. Joanne was happy at home with her young son but Ron was always focused on completing his teaching program. He ensured that his small family was well looked after by taking on whatever jobs were available. He drove taxi for Yellow Cab and worked as a garbage collector for both the Vancouver Garbage Department and Smithrite. It was while collecting other people’s garbage that Ron developed a keen eye and an appreciation for antiques. Every day he would come home with some form of treasure either for the house or for Peter to play with.
Ron truly found his calling with the Special Education Program in the Mission School District working with his students, their parents and the community. He developed a unique program that placed his students with local employers giving them valuable work experience. Because of Ron’s incredible tenacity (stubbornness!) and refusal to accept no for an answer this program was largely funded by the government. A highlight of his career and his 19 years in the Mission school district was having his ‘kids’ included in the final graduation ceremony.
In 1971 Ron, Joanne and Peter moved to 5 acres in Mount Lehman where Ron became interested in raising domestic Chianina cattle. Peronjonina Farms was born and Peter became involved in 4H. The farm held both sad and wonderful memories. Ron’s dad died soon after from lung cancer. Ron and Joanne began the building of their new home and his mom, Jean, moved into the little original house on the property. Memorable dinner parties were held at the farm with their many friends, colleagues and neighbours.
While working at Lumberland in Clearbrook, Peter met his soon to be wife Heather. In 1990 Peter and Heather married and Ron and Joanne decided it was time for a change. They set their sights on the Cariboo. Not wanting to give up acreage life they found a beautiful spot in McLeese Lake. Ron’s favourite saying about this life change was that “he was moving to the Cariboo to fish and die”. Fishing became a passionate pastime for Ron and Joanne and the freezer was always full of trout.
Ron successfully obtained funding so that he could continue working with the students with special needs and started up a work experience program in Williams Lake through the Cariboo Chilcotin School District. Ron retired from teaching in 1999.
Ron had 3 granddaughters who he dearly loved spending time with. Emma was born in 1998 followed by the twins Olivia and Georgia in 2003. Some of their adventures included fishing with Grandpa and trips to Disneyland. Trips to the north were frequent to celebrate the many special events that his grandchildren were involved in. The trips involved piano, dance, birthdays and always at Christmas.
Another passion of Ron’s was travelling and experiencing the wonders of the world. Ron trekked the trails of Matchu Peechu, walked the great wall of China, fished for piranha in the Amazon River, enjoyed fabulous cuisine and hospitality in South Korea, hung out in Europe and spent as much time as he could in Mexico.
Ron died March 22, 2016. He was a unique personality. Once you met him you never forgot him!
Ron was an excellent storyteller who could make the mundane sound extraordinary. Most of what is written is from those stories – readers beware, a true fisherman can always tell a good tale!
His was a life well lived.
Never to be forgotten by Joanne, Peter, Heather, Emma, Olivia and Georgia!
As per Ron’s wishes there will be no service. Consider making a donation to the Mission or Williams Lake Association for Community Living. Have a scotch or a martini for Ron!